Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/348

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332
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

falls is, by a measurement made in the year 1860, rather more than that number of yards; and the depth, from its edge to the surface of the basin water, about 400 feet. On account of clouds, Livingstone was unable to take the position of the falls; but Kalai, a few miles above (north) is, according to his observation, in lat. 17° 51' 54" S., and long. 25° 41' E.

Passing the confluence of the Kafue, on January 14, 1856, he reached that of the Loangwa, where are the ruins of Zumbo, formerly a Portuguese settlement, and probably the farthest point inland to which they have penetrated from the east, long. 30° 32' E. Crossing from the north side of the Zambési, along which he had hitherto been travelling, on February 6th, he entered the extensive district of Chicova, where silver-mines were said to have once existed. After examining the geological structure of the country—a soft gray sandstone—he was unable to meet with traces of silver; but crossing some dikes of basalt running north and south, "the sandstone," he says, "is then found to have been disturbed, and at the rivulet called Nake we found it tilted up and exhibiting a section which was coarse sandstone above, sandstone flag, shale, and lastly, a thin seam of coal." This seam, it is true, was not traced far, being displaced by a fault formed by a dike of basalt. But its existence can hardly be deemed an unimportant matter, especially when it is considered that the discovery was made in the very centre of a cotton-producing district, that iron is plentiful in the hills to the north, and that, if, as Livingstone thinks, silver may not prove to be one of the products of the country, gold certainly is, specimens of which the writer has in his possession. That the Portuguese of the lower settlements have not availed themselves more of the advantages thus offered them, is owing much to their indolence and want of enterprise, but more to the hostility of the tribes of these districts, who vigorously oppose any attempts to advance into their territory. A considerable quantity of gold, however, comes into their hands, though it is all obtained from natives living on the borders, who bring it to their settlements. The gold in the form of dust is put into goose-quills, and one quill is sold for twenty-four yards of calico. A singular superstition keeps down the produce. The natives believe the earth to consist of a thin, flat, pancake-like crust of matter, poised in space; and, for fear of breaking through this crust, and falling headlong into the fathomless depths that they suppose yawn for them below, they will never venture to dig deeper than the level of their chin. Whenever a flake or nugget of gold is met with, it is put back into the earth again, under the impression that it forms the seed of the gold!

Striking away from the river southward, Livingstone failed on this occasion to see the rapids of Kebrabasa, 50 miles above Tette. These rapids no doubt present a formidable barrier to the navigation of the Zambési—especially at one point where the whole volume of